Three Articles and One Podcast About the Environment

Photo credit: Anthony Arrigo, CC BY 2.0.

Following this week’s discussion of the United Nations’ climate change report, here are a few more stories about what we’re doing to our environment.

First, and most important: the New York Times has a list of organizations accepting donations for Hurricane Michael relief, and I’m going to make a donation later today.

We had a Billfolder request to discuss Epicurious’s Everything You Should and Should Not Feel Guilty About When Ordering Groceries Online:

First, the (pretty) good news. In most cases, food shopping online creates fewer carbon emissions (a.k.a., the gases that cause global warming) than driving your car to the store. In a 2013 study conducted at the University of Washington, civil engineers Anne Goodchild and Erica Wygonik found that ordering groceries online could reduce carbon emissions anywhere from 20 to 75 percent.

You’ll have to read the whole thing for the bad news.

If you want even more bad news, the Better Government Association just completed an in-depth investigation on why many of the items Chicagoans put into their recycling bins don’t actually get recycled: 

Chicago is the only major city that gives private haulers sole discretion to decide which recycling is diverted to landfills, the BGA found. The practice deviates sharply from other cities, many of which use only municipal collection crews, fine residents for chronic contaminations and give residents a second chance to have the contents of suspect recycling bins re-evaluated before the bins are hauled off to dumps.

On the subject of landfills: the 99PI podcast is currently running a series of episodes about clothing titled “Articles of Interest;” this week’s episode covers the history of blue jeans and how we went from clothing designed to last forever to clothing designed to be thrown away at the end of the season. The tl;dl? Culturally, we began to prefer stretchier clothing; to achieve that give, we started using fabric laced with plastic and petroleum, which breaks down really easily.

Lastly, closer to home: Iowa’s governor just issued a disaster proclamation for 19 Iowa counties after a week of heavy rains/winds/tornadoes/flooding (the proclamation “allows State resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of this severe weather, and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program”) and the Cedar Rapids Gazette explained why Iowa isn’t going to have fall foliage this year:

“For good fall color, the recipe I usually think of is cool nights, sunny days and not a lot of excess rain. Those are three things we have not seen a lot of yet,” said Iowa Department of Natural Resources district forester David Asche.

It was 80 degrees and rainy at the beginning of the week; now it’s 36 degrees and rainy with a freeze warning. We’re very likely to go from summer straight into winter, with trees shedding still-green leaves onto the ice.

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